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That Guitar Tone You Love? The Line 6 Firehawk FX  Has It

 

By Chris Loeffler

 

Line 6 has been leading the pack in pushing technology and consolidating the guitar ecosystem for almost 20 years. By recreating expensive and near-impossible-to-find gear through software modeling, Line 6 has made available the biggest touchstones of guitar history to modern players in compact form factors at a variety of price points. The Line 6 Firehawk FX is the logical next step in their technological march toward encapsulating all the elements that constitute "tone" in a single product.

 

As a fully-featured multi-effect/amp modeler, it helps to start with a 10,000 foot view of what the Firehawk FX has and does. So, here’s a rundown of what’s hiding beneath those glowing switches and knobs, and what you can pack into the 128 user-reassgnable preset channels.

 

Effects:

 

12 Reverb Effects

13 Distortion Effects

2 HD Effects (Harmony and Delay)

16 Drive and Dynamics Effects

23 Modulation Effects

14 Delay Effects

23 Filter Effects

16 Studio Reverb Effects

 

Amps:

 

29 HC Amps

8 Clean Amps

25 American Amps

18 British Amps

26 High Gain Amps

25 Speaker Cabinets

 

There's extensive I/O: Guitar Input, 2nd Expression Pedal Input, Stereo FX Send/Receive, Stereo XRL and 1/4" Outs, Heaphone and USB Out, and Variax In.

 

The Line 6 Firehawk FX features over 200 amps and effects that can be customized, stored, and accessed in multiple ways to accommodate almost any approach to amplification, be it a virtual pedalboard running into an amp setup, an amp modeler (with out without effects) directly into the PA for live performances, or run straight into an audio interface for recording. So yes… amps and effects.

 

The amp and effects libraries are deep, and cover every major piece of gear (and most minor ones, too) that exist in the guitar pantheon. Pedalboard enthusiasts will find comfort in being able to turn on and off individual effects within a preset (five per preset, plus tap tempo and expression controls) while rack jockeys can jump straight to wildly different amp and effects configurations with a single stomp. The inclusion of the Variax Input allows those using the Line 6 Variax to change the Variax guitar model and tuning with the Firehawk FX presets, taking all the thought out of matching guitars to presets live.

 

Although every control and parameter is adjustable onboard the unit, Line 6 wisely created a Firehawk FX app for iOS and Android to allow a graphic interface user experience. This brings much more of the editing capabilities to the forefront via an intuitive dashboard optimized for on-the-fly adjustments - without having to bend down and dig through a menu or two. Further expanding the “no bending over” aesthetic of this “floorboard" is the mountable design that allows mounting on a stand for easy control manipulation that doesn't take you away from the moment. While live performances will likely see the Firehawk FX used on the floor, the ability to dial in tones without bending over makes getting it perfect in practice that much easier (cue other bandmates applauding).

 

 

The Firehawk FX shares a lot of similarities in form factor and function with the Line 6 POD HD500X (including the modeling technology), but is different in that it is a bit more of a streamlined product that gives the goods up front and asks for slightly less investment of the user's time to unlock them. Whereas the POD HD500X is about building tones from the ground up with deeper editing options and more routing options, the Firehawk is more about immediate gratification.

 

Limitations

 

While all parameters are accessible on the physical unit, players who don’t intend to use the app support and are intimidated by layered menus may find the Firehawk FX has a steeper learning curve than the typical stomp box…the number of options and degree of control requires a bit of upfront investment in the learning curve.

 

Conclusion

 

What do you say about a tool that does almost everything currently available to guitar players, and does it all well? There will always be preferences and minute details a purist will mention as to why they stick with their favorite physical versions of whatever signal chain is being modeled, and those preferences are valid. That’s not the point of the Firehawk FX, and that person isn't its customer. The raison d’etre  of the Firehawk FX is to give guitar players access to almost every sound available in a compact, easy to use format that can handle multiple output applications and configurations tailored to the individual player - and it nails that in spades. Add in sturdy construction and high-resolution sampling, and the Firehawk becomes a no-compromise solution that shines in almost any setting.

 

Line 6 Firehawk FX Webpage (MSRP $699.99 /Street $449.99)

 

 

____________________________________________ 

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer

 

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